JERUSALEM (RNS) – A new Hebrew-English Bible with a distinctly Israeli flavor will be published in honor of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
The anniversary begins at sundown Wednesday (April 18) and ends at sundown the next day.
The Israel Bible “is the world’s first Bible centered around the Land of Israel, the People of Israel and the unique relationship between them,” according to Israel365, the organization that produced it in conjunction with Menorah Books, a division of Koren Publishers Jerusalem.
Israel365 teaches Christians about the biblical significance of the land of Israel and the Jewish people’s connection to the land, based on the text of the 24 books that constitute the Tanakh, the Hebrew name for the Bible, and what Christians call the Old Testament.
The group’s newsletter is read by 300,000 subscribers, the majority of them evangelical Christians — among the strongest supporters of Israel.
Maayan Hoffman, vice president of marketing and brand strategy at Israel365, wrote in The Jerusalem Post that the aim of the new Bible is “to convince a divided Jewish people, Christian Zionists and what sometimes seems like an anti-Israel world that Israel belongs to the Jewish people.”
The founding of Israel, which became a refuge for Jews after the Holocaust, in which one-third of the world’s Jewish population was murdered, is called the Nakba (“catastrophe” in Arabic) by many Palestinians and others who question Jews’ right to what was once part of the biblical land of Israel.
Written by Orthodox rabbis and scholars, The Israel Bible’s commentary ties the history of the Jewish people to modern-day Israel.
In Jeremiah 4:6, for example, a sentry instructs the Israelites to “set up a signpost” to direct those fleeing from invaders in the North to Jerusalem; The Israel Bible’s commentary relates how, in 1891, a man named Michael Halperin gathered a group of people in central Israel and unfurled a blue and white flag emblazoned with the words “nes Tziona.”
“This location became the modern-day city of Nes Tziona, and Halperin’s banner became the model for the future Israeli flag,” the Bible notes.
Although The Israel Bible was created largely with non-Jews in mind, Rabbi Tuly Weisz, its editor, emphasized that “there is nothing a Jewish reader would find questionable” in its text or presentation.
He said he hopes the Bible, which will be published in June, will foster greater understanding between Christians and Jews.
“For 2,000 years the Bible was the No. 1 source of division between Jews and Christians,” Weisz said. “My hope is that this Bible will become a source of unity between the two peoples.”